All health professionals, wherever they serve, will come across people with eating disorders in their day-to-day clinical work. These are complex illnesses with high levels of morbidity and mortality. They create significant emotional distress and affect relationships and the ability to function in society. They have an impact on the person’s education and employment, and in many cases, they can be a real threat to life.
It is now over five years since the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman published the report “Ignoring the Alarms” in December 2017. Having carefully investigated the tragic death of Averil Hart as a result of anorexia nervosa, and having identified multiple times when her life could have been saved, the PHSO report called for more training on eating disorders for health professionals.
Since then, much has been done to equip eating disorder specialists. But much more is required to equip all healthcare professionals and allied health professionals, who will come across eating disorders in their day-to-day clinical work.
As Prof Janet Treasure, a world-renowned expert on the subject, says: “All health professionals will come across eating disorders. Recognising and managing these devastating disorders requires a team with all types of clinicians who play their part, bringing different types of expertise at different times to help the person.”
So, Family Mental Wealth in collaboration with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, has created an e-learning course, suitable for all healthcare professionals and allied health professionals.
Dr Elizabeth McNaught, the medical director of Family Mental Wealth, who herself has lived-experience of an eating disorder in her teenage years, said: “Our vision is that all healthcare professionals and allied health professionals, whatever their speciality, will develop vital knowledge and skills to play an appropriate role in recognising, managing, and supporting specialist treatment for eating disorders.”
This CPD-certified eLearning is based on the textbook Eating Disorders: An Oxford Specialist Handbook and is presented by Prof Janet Treasure and Dr Elizabeth McNaught, two of the textbook authors.
The eLearning has been reviewed positively by representatives of a wide range of healthcare professionals and allied health professionals, and organisations that support families caring for a loved one with an eating disorder. Jenny Langley of New Maudsley Carers said: “Having supported families for nearly 15 years, one of the biggest frustrations that I see, is when there is a lack of understanding outside of the specialist eating disorder teams. I am delighted that this excellent eLearning from Family Mental Wealth will equip the wider health professional community.”
The e-learning is in 13 bite-sized modules, each drawing upon a chapter of the Oxford University Press textbook. Each module comprises a video of Prof Janet Treasure and Dr Elizabeth McNaught, an animated case story, a downloadable summary of the textbook chapter, and an “assessment of learning” quiz culminating in a personalised CPD certificate accredited by the CPD Certification Service.
Those who have already used this eLearning have commented:
- “The videos were short but included an amazing amount of information.”
- “The style means you can dip in and out according to available time.”
- “The case stories give really helpful context.”
- “I love the Book Bite downloadable summaries that I can refer to later.”
For those who would rather learn together with others from their own field of healthcare, Family Mental Wealth also offers live training events, in person or online, drawing upon the eLearning and the textbook. These include contextualisation and reflective application to the day-to-day clinical work of the attendees.
- Develop a foundational understanding of the nature, presentation, and diagnostic criteria of all seven different types of eating disorders covered in the DSM-5, plus three emerging eating disorder diagnoses, illustrated by animated case stories.
- Be equipped for conducting or supporting, within your own day-to-day clinical work, effective history-taking (applying the ABCDE approach), examination, and investigations of any patient who might have an eating disorder.
- Develop a foundational understanding of a wide range of biological, psychological and social risk factors which can predispose, precipitate, or perpetuate an eating disorder.
- Develop a foundational understanding of related comorbidities and complications of eating disorders.
- Be equipped to identify and respond appropriately to medical emergencies in eating disorders, within your own day-to-day clinical work, as covered in the Royal College of Psychiatrists MEED guidelines.
- Understand appropriate compliance with confidentiality, capacity, and application of the Mental Health Act in relation to eating disorders.
- Be equipped to play an appropriate role in supporting specialist treatment, through your own day-to-day clinical work.